Charges allege driver was on meth when crash killed 2 near Thomson

James Whitaker
James Whitaker(WRDW)
Published: Nov. 3, 2021 at 11:05 AM EDT|Updated: Nov. 3, 2021 at 6:26 PM EDT
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THOMSON, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - A driver involved in Tuesday’s double fatal collision in Columbia County is facing charges with authorities alleging he was under the influence of meth at the time of the crash.

Authorities identified 36-year-old James Whitaker as the driver of a white Dodge Dakota that crashed into the back of a tractor-trailer a few miles east of Thomson.

The Columbia County Coroner’s Office said Wednesday morning that the two victims had been identified but their names weren’t being released pending notification of family members.

Arrest warrants state the collision occurred between 2:30 p.m. and 3:15 p.m. A Georgia State Patrol trooper happened upon the crash scene at 3:08 p.m. Tuesday on westbound Interstate 20 near mile marker 178.

The white Dodge Dakota had been traveling behind a tractor-trailer in the right lane, but the tractor-trailer stopped for traffic due to construction.

The Dodge Dakota was following too closely, and it struck the rear of the stopped tractor-trailer, troopers said.

Two occupants, a front seat and a back seat passenger, of the Dodge Dakota suffered fatal injuries because of the crash.

Arrest warrants state Whitaker was under the influence of methamphetamine during the time of the crash.

He was transported to Doctors Hospital in Augusta for treatment of injuries that were not life-threatening.

The driver of the tractor-trailer was not injured.

Whitaker was detained on Tuesday. He was charged with two counts of homicide by vehicle, following too closely, driving while license suspended/revoked and driving under influence of drugs, according to arrest records.

The Troop E Specialized Collision Reconstruction Team, the Georgia Department of Public Safety Motor Carrier Compliance Division and the Columbia County Coroner’s Office are assisting in the investigation.

Other crashes

  • Around 5 p.m. Tuesday, a serious crash was reported on eastbound Interstate 20 around mile marker 44 in the Wagener area of Aiken County. It appeared that a vehicle was pancaked, according to the witnesses. The South Carolina Highway Patrol reported it as an injury accident. It slowed down traffic on both sides of the Interstate, on one side due to the crash itself and on the other side due to people slowing down to look at it.
  • At least two wrecks and a jackknifed truck all came together to create a morning traffic nightmare Tuesday on westbound I-20 just on the South Carolina side of the border. A crash was reported near mile marker 1 and another was reported near Five Notch Road. Making the situation worse, a jackknifed truck was blocking Martintown Road on the north side of the interstate, backing up vehicles as people tried to exit the interstate to escape the traffic jam.

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